The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Bade Bi, resident of Gonegandla Village, Gonegandla Mandal of Kurnool district, was one of the most complex borrowers this project interviewed. Her husband sells firewood, and her son sells fried foodstuffs on a pushcart. Herself a typically highly indebted borrower with loans from all the MFIs that operate in her village, apart from loans from informal, high-cost lenders, Bade Bi is herself a central leader of MFIs. She has borrowed from SKS Microfinance, Share Microfin, Spandana and Ashmitha, apart from the local branch of SBI. She is unable to balance her finances due ill-health. Despite her key role in the growth of the MFI business in the Village, she continues to face harassment from the MFIs for her inability to repay the loans. She operates informal chits in the village.